More than 5,700 people participated in the second annual Berkeley Half Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 9. It was described by at least one observer as a mellow affair with a positive Berkeley vibe, as residents came out to support the participants, shouting things like, “welcome to the neighborhood!” as the runners darted past.
The woman’s half marathon was won by Berkeley resident Anna Bretan, 29, with a time of 1:16:12. Bretan, who is a nurse and mother of three, also won the 2013 Berkeley Half Marathon, and the 2013 and 2014 San Francisco Marathon.
The men’s half marathon was won by J.P. Slater, 23, of Pasadena with a time of 1:08:39. Slater, who graduated from UC Berkeley in May where he ran for both the cross-country and track-and-field teams, also won the 2013 Berkeley Half Marathon.
The event, which also included a 5K race, is organized by San Francisco-based Jumping Fences. It is produced in partnership with Cal Athletics and the Cal Alumni Student Association, and it raised $25,000 for its official race charities: the Berkeley Public Schools Fund and Cal Alumni Student Association.
Not everyone was thrilled with the impact on traffic caused by the marathon. One resident was caught in long lines of traffic several times on Sunday and said the staff directing vehicles did not have suggestions for alternative routes. Many people faced unexpected delays.
Medics responded to one medical emergency when a runner lost consciousness around the 10-mile mark, but that person was alert and transported to hospital, according to staff at a medical tent. At last year’s inaugural Berkeley Half Marathon, Kenneth Speirs, 49, a former UC Berkeley lecturer, suffered a heart attack and died a few weeks’ later in hospital.
Marathons are full of inspiring stories, and this one was no exception. Yuan Zhu pulled two people, one dressed in a bear suit, in a wagon through the entire course. Zhu said: “I was born crippled, I grew up obese, and I lived without hope for 23 years. But … I found inspiration and belief from others … Nowadays, I’ll do anything I can to inspire others, because I get my energy from community. I always remember what it was like to be unable to walk one mile, much less run 13. I serve my community, because my community has given me more than I ever dreamed of. So if you see me running around Berkeley or anywhere in the Bay Area, come along for the run. And if you’re too tired, you can hop in my wagon!”
Neighbors hold silent vigil for Berkeley Marathon runner (12.16.13)
Two Berkeley runners win city’s first half marathon race (11.24.13)
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